The American Mensa Committee (AMC) held a teleconference on April 2, 2019 with a very short agenda: to appoint Tracey Guice as the new Regional Coordinator for Region 8 to complete the 2017-2019 term following the recommendation of the Region 8 Local Secretaries, and to approve the minutes of the March 2 meeting. Approval of the minutes is required before they can be provided to the membership, and they are now posted in full at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ under the dropdown 2019-03-02 – Woodbridge, NJ. The minutes contain details regarding Treasurer Deb Stone’s quarterly report and budget presentation, as well as the Hearings Committee report. Also included are details for specific responsibilities for RVCs, as updated in the bi-annual review of AMC job descriptions. The RVC Responsibilities had previously been included only in the RVC Handbook and were not part of the governing ASIES (Actions Still In Effect, otherwise known as Policies). These responsibilities include reviewing local group publications and social media, promoting effective administration of local groups, and ensuring that AML policies are followed by the local groups, among others.
For those interested in greater detail, audio recordings for both meetings are also available in the meetings reports section.
As I mentioned last month, details of the Executive Session review of the Hearings Committee report are confidential, which unfortunately had the side effect of some external sources disseminating false and biased information. Some of those details are clarified in the minutes, but there are some points which should be noted. The Hearings Committee considered three separate charges, and dismissed the first. For the other two, the ASIEs define the actions by this individual as Acts Inimical (Section 11.A.4.a): “While engaging in activities sponsored or sanctioned by Mensa, engaging in conduct that endangers the well-being of others.” The Hearings Committee made their determination based on a pattern of behavior, and not a single incident.
The Hearings Committee process is exhaustively outlined in the ASIEs, Appendix 5, and is too long to summarize here, but they can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/policydocuments/actions-still-in-affect/ (yes, the url is misspelled, and I have mentioned that to the National Office). Once the Hearings Committee submits its recommendation to the AMC, it is not the responsibility of the AMC to reopen and rehear the decision, but to consider the Hearings Committee report along with remarks from the complainant and respondent or their representatives. In the end, the AMC either concurs, reduces the recommended sanction, or sends it back the Hearings Committee. Given the information provided in that closed session, and only that information, the AMC concurred with the Hearings Committee recommendation.
Two comments I’ve heard since then were that the respondent had been a long-time member with years of service, and that if there had really been a pattern of this behavior why did it take so long to expel him? To the first point, we’ve seen many cases lately where admired public personalities have fallen based on inappropriate behavior, despite many awards and accolades over their careers, because past good actions do not excuse continued bad behavior. Which leads to the second comment – when someone is popular, it is difficult to speak out against them without fear of repercussion (which I’ve witnessed in this case). Changes in culture are leading to changes in tolerance to bad behavior across all of society, not just Mensa.
There were other more positive topics I wanted to cover, such as the increase in long-term membership and the results of the Local Group Leader survey, but with space limitations those will have to wait until my next column. As always, I am willing to respond to any specific questions you may have at the addresses below.
Until next month (or until I see you online),
Thomas George Thomas